Increased space and improved facilities are absolutely critical for Puget Sound’s continued strength in science education. Over the past three decades, interest in the sciences at Puget Sound has increased dramatically. Since 1980 the number of students on campus majoring in the sciences has grown by 80 percent, the faculty has grown by 50 percent, and the number of courses offered by 36 percent. Additionally, in the nearly 40 years that Thompson Hall has served as the university’s main science building, the way the sciences are taught has fundamentally changed—contemporary scientific study requires smaller classes, more complex equipment, and added opportunities for independent research. To remain at the forefront of science education, Puget Sound must adapt to ever-changing methods of instruction. The Science Center at Puget Sound will meet the demand for increasing enrollments, allow flexibility for new and different teaching methods, and elevate the visibility of the sciences on campus.
The Science Center at Puget Sound will be home to the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, and physics; the interdisciplinary departments of biochemistry and cellular molecular biology; and the first dedicated space on campus for environmental studies.
Education in the sciences is an essential part of a liberal arts education, and the importance of applying critical thinking to their study cannot be underestimated. Scientific advancements and new technologies seem to emerge daily, carrying with them challenging social, ethical, and environmental questions. As one of two national liberal arts colleges in the state—and the only national liberal arts college in Western Washington—the University of Puget Sound plays a vital role in educating future leaders in the sciences and health professions.
All students at Puget Sound—whether they major in chemistry or creative writing—must complete a science core requirement. These core classes investigate the interrelationships among scientific disciplines and give context to scientific knowledge by relating it to other forms of understanding. Undergraduate science education thrives in a place like Puget Sound. Independent research and inquiry-based labs are available to every student, not just to upper-level students or science majors. The Science Center at Puget Sound will provide students from all disciplines with the tools, space, and opportunity to interact and learn from each other.
A vibrant science program contributes to the broader Tacoma, Pierce County, and Puget Sound region as a resource for the public consideration of science in everyday life. For example, Project GROWS (Genetic Research on Western Salmon) was developed by a Puget Sound professor for a high school science curriculum and is now in place in several local school districts. Summer Academic Challenge, now in its 12th year, offers promising but economically disadvantaged public school students the opportunity to participate in a four-week math and science enrichment course. Many science and math teachers in western Washington are Puget Sound graduates who bring to their own classrooms a rich appreciation of the importance of science in our lives. Improved science facilities on campus will forge new opportunities for community involvement on campus and reinforce the relationships our science program has already built with local organizations and individuals.
The new construction of Harned Hall adds approximately 51,000 square feet of laboratory space that links the current north and south wings of Thompson Hall. Together, Harned and Thompson's halls create a fully integrated complex that enhances opportunities for interdepartmental interaction critical for fostering interdisciplinary discussion and discovery. The central courtyard will feature multi-use spaces, a water feature, landscaping, and a gazebo cafe.
One of the most notable features of Harned Hall is a Science on Display concept that has influenced every aspect of construction, including practical and artistic representations of scientific principles embedded into the building’s design. A Foucault pendulum, designed by Professor of Physics Alan Thorndike, will greet visitors in the main lobby; Pi, the Greco-Latin four-square puzzle, and prime numbers have been translated into tile patterns that border the floor; and a two-story colonnade art wall will depict scientific images and formulas. Additional Science on Display items, including a complete skeleton of a juvenile gray whale suspended between the first and second floors of the main lobby, will capture the imagination and engage the scientist in every visitor of the center.
7. Will the Slater Museum of Natural History be more accessible to the public in the new Science Center?
Yes. The Slater Museum may be considered the University of Puget Sound’s best-kept secret, but once its new home in Thompson Hall is complete, it will be a secret no more. The renovation of Thompson Hall will provide a new facility for the museum’s treasure-trove of more than 65,000 meticulously cataloged specimens, including Washington’s second-largest collection of natural artifacts and one of the world’s most important bird-wing collections.
The Slater Museum of Natural History is a remarkable tool for Puget Sound students and faculty, visiting scholars from the Pacific Northwest and beyond, and for Tacoma-area schoolteachers and their students. It's new setting in the renovated Thompson Hall will permit rotating and permanent displays of large portions of the collection and allow the museum to increase its collaboration with local schools and community groups.
The project’s lead architect, SRG Partnership’s Kent Duffy, AIA, is a widely acclaimed champion of sustainable, high-performance buildings. He has designed the building to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver Rating, using sustainable materials and thermal mass and ventilation strategies instead of air conditioning.
Many design options and locations were considered. Ultimately, the adjoining spaces created by building Harned Hall in its current location best met the needs of the science departments and best fulfilled the university’s charge to provide the best possible academic setting for our students. Harned Hall is connected to Thompson Hall at all levels and provides for loop circulation on each level. The new entry and main lobby on Union Avenue provide a “front door” that opens the sciences on campus to the surrounding community.
Construction on Harned Hall began in January 2005 and will be completed prior to the building’s opening in fall 2006. Phase two of the project, the renovation of the north and east wings of Thompson Hall, began in May 2006 and will continue throughout the upcoming academic year.
- Community members: Please contact Gayle McIntosh, Vice President for Communications
- Campus Community and Journalists: Please contact Melissa Rohlfs, Media Relations Manager.
- Funding Opportunities: Please contact Kurt Graupensperger '87, Development Officer
We will respond to your questions and concerns as quickly as possible.